Daily activity pattern of Malayan Sun bear in Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mizoram, India
Keywords:Foraging, camera trapping, trap index, degraded forest
Sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) is the smallest bear species and remains the least known bear among the ursids. Reliable information on population and activity pattern of Sun bear has been lacking, thereby creating difficulties for field managers and conservationists to develop a management plan for their conservation. The study was an attempt to determine the habitat preference and daily activity of Sun bear through camera trapping and other signs survey methods. In the study, we had a combined trapping effort of 647 trap-nights with a total of 18 independent images of Sun bear recorded between May 2014 and March 2016. Distribution of bear signs per hectare was found to be highest in the Bamboo forest (0.398), owing to large numbers of termite's mounds. The photo capture rate of Sun bear in Dampa Tiger Reserve was found to vary by different habitats with high numbers in degraded forest landscape within the Reserve. The variation was also influenced by the disturbance of humans in the area and other feeding opportunities. The relative abundance index shows that Old Chikha has the highest index of 1.89 with a mean value of 5.26 ±0.670 among all blocks in Dampa Tiger Reserve. The daily activity index suggests that Malayan Sun bears are more active during the crepuscular period than diurnal. The highest activity was recorded between 1800- 2200 with 14.89% detection probability. No activity was recorded during the mid-noon phase. Primary forests and degraded forests with their large fruiting trees were represented as important habitat owing to the availability of fruits, termites, and invertebrates. The study will hopefully be an important step towards acquiring more knowledge on the ecology of the species and provide valuable information for the conservation of the species and their habitat.
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